Technical Communicators,
Windows NT and Unix/Linux

Thomas Albert
UC Berkeley Extension Instructor of
Technical Communication
Becky Phung
Computer Resource Specialist
MIS Consultant
The authors presented a version of this presentation to the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Society of Technical Communication on July 22, 1999 Copyright 1999 Thomas Albert and Becky Phung
All rights reserved
Contact to obtain information

What is an Operating System?

An operating system is software that enables

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APPLICATIONS: strictly speaking, the shell is an application, but above the shell are applications, such as compilers, text editors/word processors; electronic spreadsheets; and games. (A shell script, too, is an application that uses shell commands to make system calls that the kernel performs.)
KERNEL: schedules processes to enable multi-tasking; manages virtual memory (swapping from hard disk to RAM); manages the file system (enforcing file permissions and security); coordinates device input and output through the device drivers. ([Device drivers "map" specific hardware (such as Brand X mouse, printer, or network card), to the expectations of the operating system, which can "talk to" many types of devices and many brands of each type.]

Technical Communicators
and the OS environment

use online Help

write online or paper documentation

Technical Communicators
use the Operating System shell to perform tasks

Windows NT Strengths

Windows 2000 (Windows NT 5.0)

Unix/Linux Strengths

Unix, an engineering legacy

kernel separate from shell

Unix Evolution

Proliferation of variants ("implementations" or "flavors")

Linux Strengths

Linux (Re)Sources

Demonstration of Tasks

Getting Help

Windows NT


Unix shell


Navigate the File System

Windows NT Explorer (can be a browser with "Back" button)

Unix shell

pwd (present working directory)

ls (list files/directories) -l -a switches

cd .. (change directory up a level)


Share Files

Windows NT Explorer

right-click folder, create "share" w/ options


Unix shell mode of access

chmod -R 777 my_directory

recursively grant read, write, and execute permissions to user, group, and others

chmod -R 750 my_directory

recursively grant full permissions to user, read/execute to group, and none to others


Print Files

Windows NT

print from the application (hidden API call)


Unix shell for line printer

lp my_file or lpd my_file

/etc/printcap is the printer configuration file


Monitor CPU Processes

Windows NT

Ctrl Alt Del > TaskManager


Unix shell to show "process status"

ps -a shows all terminal-related process IDs (PIDs)

top shows the most intensive processes (Linux)


Stop a Print Job

Windows NT

Ctrl Alt Del > TaskManager > End Task


Unix shell to "kill" a process

kill -9 process_id_of_job


Create and Edit Text Files

Windows NT Notepad

Unix vi command and insert modes

vi file_name starts vi

cursor: h left, j down, k up, l right

a append, i insert, x delete character

:wq write and quit; :q! quit and no save


Uncompress Files

Windows NT - use WinZip

Linux tar (tape archive)

tar -xvf tarfile.tar.gz extracts, verbose (print filenames during extraction), files from the named archive, then use gzip (GNU project) to uncompress

tar -cvf to create a new file archive in verbose mode



Copyright 1999 Thomas Albert and Becky Phung
All rights reserved
Contact to obtain information